Zimbabwe: Tshinga Dube - Memory and Rethinking Dismemberment

4 December 2019

Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube will be launching his memoir, "Quiet Flows the Zambezi" today.

The launch, to be held in Harare Gardens' Theatre in the Park, comes hardly a fortnight after the nationwide renaming of our streets.

The idea behind this move is in sync with marrying the consolidation of our contemporary political story with the broad-based anti-colonial legacy.

Through this memorialisation of space we are able to immortalise the long silenced story of our past. In the process we deconstruct the vestiges of the colonial legacy to reclaim the future as a liberated people.

As Col Dube launches his biography, he is not only immortalising his personal story, but rather he is affording future generations of this country the opportunity to have an experience of the trials and tribulations which gave birth to Zimbabwe.

The incessant retelling of the many versions of our story is critical in exhuming our humanity long subdued in dehumanising colonial monologues.

Therefore, veteran actors in the theatre of Zimbabwean politics must be able to share their accounts of how we came to be.

As such, Col Dube's memoir transcends the narrow confinement to linear historiography which has been largely commemorative and less interrogative of the past.

Thanks to the liberties of the Second Republic the past is being told outside the scope of political correctness.

Col Dube breaks the erstwhile norm of concealing frictions which bedevilled the nationalist movement.

His recollection on the contradictions experienced in the armed struggle helps the retrospective inclined reader to understand that the African revolutionary movement has also embattled in contradictions.

To this end, it makes sense to connect events which gave birth to Operation Restore Legacy with the evolution of armed struggle since the late 60s.

Further to that, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the ideological and operational intricacies to resolving contradictions in ideology through the lens of the 2017 November transition. Far beyond the contemporary constructs of ideology in the revolutionary movement, Col Dube situates the role of international-based supporters to our liberation.

Eastern Europe and Russia in particular is nerve-centre of his reflection:

The philosophy of Marxism-Leninism was glorified as the sturdy foundation of guerrillas' prolonged conviction in opposing the reactionary as well as rigid representations of oppressively discriminatory scourges like fascism, colonialism, feudalism, racism apartheid and the bourgeoisie hegemonic pillars of governance that were constantly aided the exploitative stereotypically industrialised Western nations.

In other words, the ideological facets of class struggles were indispensable to ZAPU's premise of thought (page 65).

Russia is at the heart of Col Dube's story because he received his military training there. It was during this period when ZAPU was activating its facet of reconnaissance and military intelligence.

Col Dube, amongst others, was in the 1964 delegation which went for training in the sophisticated scientific faculties of military training.

Upon arrival in Russia, Col Dube remembers meeting Akim Ndlovu, Robson Manyika, Ambrose Mutinhiri, Goldman Gombakomba, Wilfred Malala, Dumiso Dabengwa, Phelekezela "Report" Mphoko among others.

Prior to that, he had been involved in the nascent stage of our liberation struggle formation in Zambia in 1961.

His arrival in Zambia was a making of his radical conditioning since his high school days at Solusi Mission where he became a card-holding member of the Southern-Rhodesia African National Congress (SRANC).

Apart from his youthful participation in the history of our struggle, Col Dube's life story focuses on ethnic-engineered divisions in the armed struggle.

He emotively notes with concern how the colonial manipulation of ethnicity divides has continued to suffuse the post-independence nation building project.

This explains why some sectors of society have incentivised retributory discourses to further secessionist politics.

Therefore, it becomes encouraging when former PF-ZAPU forerunners like Col Dube take the lead in exposing the hidden hand of imperialism in facilitating conflicts which have kept us divided since independence.

His contribution defies the circumvent polemic and punitive logic clumsily touted to frustrate the long aspired values of black on black peace and reconciliation terms.

He further recommends the need for Government to fast-track its efforts in eradicating the innuendoes of disharmony which are peddled by pretenders who thrive on regionalism. This is because if even before independence, ethnicity has been predominantly manipulated to perpetuate the colonially instigated "divide and rule" strategy.

Our academic and political discourse have been largely characterised by warring perspectives of national belonging.

To this end, colonial regional divides have also been used as emblematic justifications for the propagations of secession politics.

At the same time, Government efforts to promote inclusive nationalism have also suffered internal and opposition sabotage owing weak ideological persuasion and commitment to values of national unity.

In capsule, the story of Col Dube is a pedagogical reflection of a nationalist who was motivated by the asymmetrical order of society to fight for the freedom of his people. His long service in the Government after independence and his later victimisation under the wrath of the G40 faction benchmarks a solid character of endurance and love for the country over the self. Therefore, his biography will definitely find malleable lodgement to everyone determined inclusive nation building, peace and prosperity.

His contribution also sets in a new discourse in the thematic framing of Zimbabwean political biographies.

Many memoirs of our political insiders have been largely characterised by polemic anti-establishment undertones. Therefore, Tshinga Dube offers a much refreshing submission.

Richard Mahomva is a political science and literature aficionado interested in architecture of governance in Africa and political theory. Feedback: [email protected]

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